Serum Levels of Glycoprotein Dickkopf-1 in Patients With Cutaneous Malignant Melanoma: A Prospective Pilot Study

Dermatology. 2011;222(2):171-5. doi: 10.1159/000324516. Epub 2011 Mar 8.


Background: Dickkopf-1 (Dkk-1) glycoprotein is an inhibitor of the canonical Wnt pathway. Recent studies have demonstrated elevated Dkk-1 serum levels in patients with diverse malignancies. In vitro studies with melanoma cell lines showed that loss of Dkk-1 expression may contribute to tumor progression.

Objective: The present study is the first in vivo investigation of Dkk-1 serum levels in patients with cutaneous malignant melanoma.

Methods: We analyzed serum levels of Dkk-1 protein in 82 patients with cutaneous melanoma.

Results: Serum levels were significantly increased (mean 83.01 pmol/l) in comparison to healthy controls (mean 29.36 pmol/l). No statistical difference in Dkk-1 serum levels neither between patients without or with lymph node metastases (p = 0.719) nor between patients with or without visceral metastases (p = 0.929) was found. Patients before excision had moderately higher Dkk-1 serum levels than after excision or with florid metastases.

Conclusion: Our data suggest that increased Dkk-1 expression is an early event in melanoma, decreasing in later tumor stages. It was shown previously that Dkk-1 activates cell death in melanoma cells. Our in vivo data indicate that a decrease in Dkk-1 could be a sign of loss of tumor control.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / blood*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Melanoma / blood*
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Skin Neoplasms / blood*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Young Adult


  • DKK1 protein, human
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins